Although administered by the Board of Conservators, the day to day management of Wimbledon & Putney Commons is the responsibility of the Clerk & Ranger, Chief Executive. He is assisted in the Ranger's Office by the Deputy Clerk & Ranger, the Wildlife and Conservation Officer and a Personal Assistant.
The Ranger's Office is open 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm. We also provide 24 hour cover via a Duty Officer who is on call to deal with emergencies whenever the office is closed. They can be reached by telephone (020 8788 7655) or via the emergency contact buzzer at the door to the Ranger's Office. Please do not call out of hours for non-emergency queries.
The Commons are patrolled between dusk and dawn, 365 days a year. The most effective form of transport on the Commons is the horse. Horses can cope with the rigorous conditions and have been the preferred form of transport for the Conservators' security section for well over 70 years.
The Keepers are uniformed and the current team of 7 Keepers all have a military background. They are all competent horsemen, knowledgeable in the ways of the countryside and trained in first aid. Their role is to uphold the 1871 Wimbledon and Putney Commons Act and protect the safety of Commons users.
For security purposes, the Commons are divided into three sectors. Each sector is patrolled twice daily by one or more of the Keepers. The patrols take place between dawn and dusk with each patrol lasting up to about three hours. The main focus of the Keepers' role is to ensure that the users of the Common are safe but also to ensure that the Commons users aren't breaking any of the Bye-laws which govern the Common.
At walking pace, the horses can cover four miles in an hour and each horse is on patrol for an average of 6 hours a day: that will give you some idea of the area of the Commons that is covered by the Keepers each day. The Keepers also patrol on foot, often accompanied by their canine companions!
Out on Patrol
The Keepers are led by the Senior Keeper, Bill Rowland, who besides being a Mounted Keeper is also the Stable Manager and responsible for organising the daily patrolling of the Commons.
Bill and all the other Keepers: Geoff, Guy, Chris, Davy, John and Gilly have all served in the military or public service sector and are used to the long hours in the saddle that the job requires. All are blessed with having attended the 'University of Life' and there is not much that escapes their ever-watchful eyes.
This is how a Keeper usually spends his day:
Designated Keepers patrol until last light which, during the summer, means 22.00 hrs. Although patrols do not take place during the hours of darkness, all staff are on call. The Commons are covered by a 24 hour listening watch which, if required, can mobilise at least 2 men to deal with serious incidents.
These routines are carried out 365 days a year.
The seven strong maintenance team, under the direction of the Wildlife and Conservation Officer, are responsible for the routine work of ditching, grass cutting and verge trimming, litter collection, path and ride repairs, pond and scrub clearance, tree felling and tree surgery, over 1,100 acres with several million trees. Also one member is employed full-time on maintenance and repairs of our buildings. Their skills and commitment are hugely important in maintaining and preserving this ecologically important site.
The past year has seen a number of staff changes at the Richardson Evans Memorial Playing Fields (alongside the A3 at Roehampton Vale). In January 2011 Gary Jepson, the new Head Groundsman arrived to take over from Ian Osbon. Gary brought with him 25 years of groundsman experience. John Madden retired in October 2011 after 29 years on the Common, and was replaced by Jason Cheney, also an experienced groundsman. The new team has already made great progress developing the Playing Fields. As well as the usual football and rugby pitches, a six-lane 400m running track has been laid out on the extension field and we have the facilities for people to play fun cricket and we have the facility to accommodate a wide variety of sports.